New County Study Links Groundwater Contamination With Mulching OperationsNew County Study Links Groundwater Contamination With Mulching Operations
February 24, 2016
A new Suffolk County Health Department study links, for the first time, groundwater contamination with mulching and composting facilities on Long Island.
The report, released last month, is based on groundwater samples taken at 11 different sites across Suffolk County, including two on the South Fork—in Speonk and Eastport. Elevated concentrations of various metals, including manganese, arsenic, cobalt and titanium, were detected at most of the sites, as well as from private wells near the Speonk property. Additionally, 19 different pesticides were found “at relatively low concentrations at a majority of the sites,” the report notes, though the study also states that not all of those contaminants originated from the composting operations.
Perhaps most alarming, at least locally, is that a mulching and composting operation nestled between Speonk-Riverhead Road and Fifth Avenue in Speonk was the only one directly linked with the contamination of private wells located downgradient of the operation. The report notes that water from four of 10 private wells in the area—a roughly 9-acre tract of land dubbed simply as “Site #1” in the study—are “exhibiting impacts consistent with those from groundwater impacted at other vegetative organic waste management sites in Suffolk County.”
Additionally, it continues, “Recent sampling in all four of these private wells shows a general increasing trend in metal concentrations when compared with the older samples.”